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Love – Turning Everything We Know About it on Its Head


The sad truth is that most of us fall in love for the wrong reason. We bring a partner into our lives to fulfil our need for love, and it is this outward focus that creates all our problems. What we really do is ‘fall in need’, rather than ‘fall in love’. This creates a dependence on our partners – we rely on their presence in our lives, to make us happy. As I discovered in my marriage, this near total dependence on another person was a recipe for disaster. I suffered so much when my wife left me because I had to face the emptiness and lack of self-love within me. Although I was completely unaware of it at the time, that emptiness had been there long before I met my wife. If you have ever suffered the agony of losing somebody close to you, then you have experienced those feelings of dependency. I have seen many people repeatedly fall in love and lose it again until they become cynical about romantic relationships and give up on relationships all together. The problem is that when this happens they also give up on life as well.

There is another way of looking at love that takes us in a healing direction. Although our romantic relationships may begin for all the wrong reasons, we must not become cynical about them because they show us the true nature of love and can help us to reveal the real us. As we fall in love we see our potential for successful relationships and for a life full of love. In the honeymoon phases of a relationship we see only the best in our partners and feel really good about ourselves. The truth is that we don’t have to restrict these feelings to the start of a relationship – we could be this happy and fulfilled at any moment in our lives.

To see how this might be, let’s look at the process of falling in love in a more positive way. Can you remember what it felt like when you fell in love? Think back to those heady days when you couldn’t stop thinking about your partner. Do you remember how perfect he or she seemed, how totally in tune they were with you and how connected you felt? You probably spent hours looking into each others eyes, talking endlessly and making love with wild abandon. It was all so easy.

It was this way because you allowed yourself to fall in love – during that time you let go of all your fears and negative ideas about yourself and the world. You opened yourself up to all the love that was available. You poured love on your partner and they poured love on you. Crucially you also received each other’s love without question. These romantic experiences show you what it is like to be free of our fear and insecurity and experience your true capacity for love and joy in a committed relationship.

The key to understanding what happens when you fall in love is to recognize that nothing new comes to you. The love was waiting beneath your fear and negative self-beliefs and it showed up when you let them go. When you fell in love it seemed that your partner was making you feel happy but what really happened was that you gave yourself permission to be happy. In that moment you made a subconscious choice to feel good. It is critically important in your understanding of relationships to appreciate that, no matter how much love your partner gave you when you fell in love, the good feelings were already present in you, before you met. The romantic process simply allowed you to access your natural capacity for love. What’s really exciting about understanding love in this way, is that you can find it again at any point in your life, without depending on another person’s presence or behavior.

As you can see, when we understand love in this way it transforms our relationships and our lives. Suddenly we realize that love isn’t an emotion that comes and goes – it is a description of our very essence. Love is who we are.

This profoundly different understanding of love explains so much about our romantic experiences and about life itself. We realise that our positive experiences within relationships are not determined by the amount of love we are given by another person but by the amount of love we can embrace – the amount that we can reveal our loving essence. Of course it is wonderful to find somebody who loves us, but this is valueless if we are unable to receive it. When we or our partner has low self-esteem, we do not know ourselves as love, and it is in this situation that fear and anxiety fills the void. We just won’t let ourselves feel love or be loved.

If we are honest, few of us believe that we are 100% complete when it comes to love. Even if we find somebody to love us and temporally fulfill our need, this does nothing to heal the underlying low self-esteem. It makes us dependent and highly vulnerable to loss in the future. Our neediness for love becomes very unattractive and through all manner of negative behaviors, we drive our partners away. The irony is that we have gone out into the world to find something that we have had all along! Of course, the key question to ask is why we would ever deny our true, loving identity. It seems crazy that we would turn away from something that is so life-enhancing. The astonishing truth is that we turn away from love because we are afraid of it.

When it comes to love, we are our own worst enemies! It is time to recognize our fear of love and intimacy and to begin to embrace it more fully in our lives. To do this we must dismantle the self-imposed barriers to the love that is waiting for us beneath our fear. The rewards will be extraordinary.

peter granger is an acclaimed relationship counselor and life coach. he runs relationship and self-development workshops in the uk . he has an e-book called ‘a model for love’ – the secrets of successful relationships for more info. and relationship advice go to www.iloveyouloveme.com

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Listed: August 27, 2008 5:53 pm